While Turkey has long been a popular vacation destination for its history and architecture, and has gained an international reputation for beach facilities, it is possibly less well known for the many walking and hiking opportunities that it offers; however, this large country has more than enough to satisfy most hikers looking for an engaging vacation.
Turkey: a brief overview
Geographically and culturally, Turkey spans the continents of Europe and Asia. The great city of Istanbul, which has formerly been known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is a historic marvel that marks the join between these two continents. It is also the first taste of the country for many visitors, while other travelers prefer to head straight to the capital, Ankara, or to one of the much-visited coastal resorts such as those in and around Antalya. The whole country heats up significantly during the summer months, and the best weather for hiking is usually in the spring – between March and May – or in the fall – between September and November.
As far as getting there is concerned, Turkish Airlines offer a number of different routes into Turkey, giving flexibility to travelers who have their heart set on visiting a particular region of the country.
Things that make Turkey ideal for hiking
Turkey is a large country with a rich history. This combination means that there is much variety in the available hikes, and many local points of interest to be found along most of the routes. In particular, hikers can choose between coastal scenery skirting the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas, and mountainous inland trails, including an ascent of the Biblical landmark of Mount Ararat. Many of the hiking trails in the country are only now becoming known to hikers from around the world, meaning that much of the scenery remains unique and unspoiled by mass tourism.
Turkey’s most popular hiking trails
Although many hiking trails in Turkey are relatively unknown, the most famous is probably the coastal hike along the Lycian Way. As a consequence of its growing popularity, this is also one of the few trails for which comprehensive maps are available. The route takes in much of the Turkish Aegean coastline, with its superb scenery, and also provides many potential stops of historic interest. The Roman ruins at Patara and the medieval castle at Kekova Bay are just a couple of examples.
Nearby, the St Paul’s Trail is a challenging hike suitable for the more experienced hiker; maps for this route are readily available. Hikers that enjoy mountain scenery would also do well to explore the inland options in Turkey. These include not just Mount Ararat but also the unique natural rock formations and carved rock churches in Cappadocia, and the mountain peaks of Mount Embler and Ala Daglar. In each of these cases, visitors would be well advised to prepare thoroughly and to bring plenty of water and supplies, as shops and sleeping huts are not always readily available. Guided treks can be found for those who wish to leave the route finding to others.